As much as I love to read, manga was a complete unknown to me before Death Note. I'd seen a few anime, and even found myself really into Japanese liteAs much as I love to read, manga was a complete unknown to me before Death Note. I'd seen a few anime, and even found myself really into Japanese literature, but somehow skipped manga until this. Despite having worked for a few years at a comic book store, I've only recently gotten around to reading manga. Although it feels like I may be a bit older than the target audience, I found myself completely enraptured by Boredom, the first volume of twelve in the Death Note series.
The story follows Light, a straight A student in Japan who finds a mysterious black book called a Death Note. There are instructions inside, which tell Light that all he has to do is write the name of a person inside of the book while thinking of their face and they will die within minutes. It even gives him the option of customizing the method of their demise, defaulting to a heart attack if he doesn't fill in the details. He is shortly thereafter joined by Ryou, the demon from another realm who left the Death Note on Earth, seemingly purely for his own amusement.
Death Note wastes zero time in getting really exciting. It asks interesting questions about power and about whether killing is ever really justified, as Light begins his story by knocking off known horrible criminals. He believes himself to be righteous, despite the fact that the body count is getting bigger and bigger by the day. The dynamic between Light and the bemused shinigami Ryuk is part of the charm in the story, as their back and forth is amusing and interesting to read, as they are the big players in the story while also being the ones discussing whether what's going on is within the scope of moral behavior.
The only minor criticism I have of Boredom is that the dialogue can occasionally approach a point that is too cheesy for my liking. Although I think the majority of this problem comes from the translation rather than any bad writing, it did come across as a bit over the top at times. Still, it's a minor hiccup in a story that is really well written overall with interesting characters and a lot of big questions. It definitely lends itself to binging through the whole series. ...more
I generally would say I come across as a pretty stoic guy, but when I think about this book or hear the song it is named for now, I kinda almost cry.I generally would say I come across as a pretty stoic guy, but when I think about this book or hear the song it is named for now, I kinda almost cry. This novel really hit close to home for me on a lot of points, and it made the way it ends all the more affecting. I finished this only a few days ago but I'm giving serious consideration to reading it again within the next few weeks.
The story is pretty simple: It is 1969 in Japan, and Toru is in love with Naoko. They share a tragic past that binds them together. Unfortunately, Naoko is forced to live in a home for people with mental disorders (due to what is obviously severe depression). They try to make it work anyway, with Toru going to visit her whenever he can (although it is rarely). Meanwhile, Toru meets a spunky-cute-slightly-narcissistic girl named Midori who he finds himself having feelings for, and in the end he is forced to choose between two loves.
That blurb makes it sound like a Hallmark movie but it really isn't like that at all. It is a deeply sad but brilliant novel, and I would say my very favorite bildungsroman ever, unseating The Catcher in the Rye in my heart from a position it has held since freshman year of high school. Murakami's characters always strike me as so vivid; I always feel like I know who they are when I'm reading the novel, which makes me more invested in how things actually turn out. I even found some of the relatively minor characters endearing, especially Reiko, the roommate to Naoko at the home.
Basically this book broke my heart but being a bit of an emotional masochist I'm going to go back for more anyway. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever felt like they could connect with a story that doesn't have sci-fi or fantasy elements. It's just fiction, no aliens, no fairies, just a beautiful story....more